Betfair is to join Playtech’s poker networks in the ring-fenced markets of Spain and Italy, it confirmed this morning.
The betting exchange said its new Spanish-facing room would launch during this current financial year – which ends 31 March 2013 – contingent on Betfair gaining a poker licence on top of its existing permits for fixed-odds sports betting, blackjack and roulette. The dot.it room will launch once Betfair’s core betting exchange has gone live. Italy’s law to regulate exchanges has yet to be implemented despite the EC giving approval in May, due to Italian authorities working on changes to allow potential liquidity sharing with other jurisdictions.
Betfair’s group operations director Ian Chuter said: “This deal allows us to offer a compliant Poker solution in markets where historically we have not been able to.”
The extension of Betfair’s existing online casino deal with Playtech “to offer ring-fenced Poker products in markets that require them” will come as a blow to bwin.party-owned poker network Ongame, which currently powers Betfair’s poker offering in open dot.com markets. As reported by Casino Choice in June, the writing was on the wall for the relationship when Betfair delayed its application for a poker licence in Spain and was not named as one of Ongame’s licensees in the market, which only appears to include Paf.es, after bwin.party launched bwin’s dot.es room on the PartyPoker platform.
In Spain, Betfair is set to join established Playtech-powered brands William Hill, bet365 and Poker770 on the supplier’s small dot.es network, the fourth largest for cash game traffic in the recently regulated market behind PokerStars, 888 and PartyPoker, according to ring games tracking site PokerScout.
In Italy, Betfair will eventually join Playtech’s major licensees SNAI.it, Sisal.it, Titanbet.it and Eurobet.it, the second largest network in the segregated dot.it player pool market behind local incumbent Microgame’s People’s Network. Playtech’s licensees commanded 13.4% of the ring games market and 12.9% of tournament revenues in Italy in June, according to calculations by Casino Choice based on data from regulator AAMS.
Confirmation that Betfair won’t be joining Ongame in Italy either is set to compound the network’s already weak position in that market once bwin.party migrates its brands – bwin.it and Gioco Digitale .it – from Ongame onto the PartyPoker platform, as is scheduled to take place at the end of the first quarter of 2013. Ongame commanded just 2.9% of cash game revenue and 3.4% of tournament revenue in Italy in June once the contributions of bwin.party’s brands were removed, according to calculations by Casino Choice.
Today’s news that one of Ongame’s blue-chip clients has signed a poker deal with rival Playtech could also impact bwin.party efforts to sell the Stockholm-based business for anything near the €19.5m (rising to €29.5m upon launch of US-regulated online poker) that US machine supplier ShuffleMaster agreed to pay before it pulled the plug on the deal in June, citing deteriorating conditions in the European poker market. Canadian software business Amaya, which Casino Choice reported at the time of ShuffleMaster backing out of the deal as the main alternative suitor for Ongame, has also now re-entered the fray, according to Pokerfuse.